Well I remember the thrill I had watching Margaret Hamilton perform at the Seattle Repertory Theater back in 1971. It was a full 32 years after Ms. Hamilton’s career-defining role as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and slightly before she began doing television commercials for Maxwell House Coffee.
I was a junior in high school back then, and our English class took a field trip “into the city” to see this great lady perform as Mrs. Malaprop, in The Rivals. I admit I don’t remember much about the play, but I do remember that whenever Ms. Hamilton was onstage, she commanded my full attention.
I can’t estimate today how many times I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, but it still remains my all-time favorite movie. Long ago I learned to cackle exactly as Ms. Hamilton did, and I’ve learned to employ just the right grate in my voice when I say, “I’ll bide my time…but I’ll get you my pretty—and your little dog, too!” (You’d be amazed at just how often this line has come in handy over the years!)
A couple weeks ago, Ms. Hamilton’s original witch hat was auctioned off on “Hollywood Treasure.” It sold for an astonishing $200,000. Now, I didn’t happen to have a spare $200,000 lying around, so I didn’t buy it… But I sure wish I could have!